Freelance visa to the UAE

Emirates ID
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A freelancer visa is a residence permit allowing you to live and work legally in the UAE as a freelancer. It includes a resident visa and a work permit allowing you to work for yourself rather than for a company. The freelance visa holder receives an Emirates ID and can open a bank account.
Visa features
You can not hire employees with this visa, however, you can sponsor your immediate family (wife, husband, children), i.e. apply for a visa for them.

A freelance work permit obtained in a particular free zone is valid throughout the UAE. For example, if you are licensed in Abu Dhabi but plan to work in Dubai, you would not need to obtain a separate permit in that Emirate.
Document package
The list of documents varies depending on the specific Free Zone where the visa is issued. Generally, the following set of documents is required:

  • CV;
  • a photograph that meets certain requirements;
  • a copy of your passport;
  • reference letter from a bank (this can be a local or international bank) and proof of sufficient income (bank statements);
  • portfolio — PDF or link (for media professionals);
  • a higher education diploma;
  • health insurance;
  • local telephone number;
  • if you already have a work visa but want to provide additional freelance services, a letter of no objection from your employer (NOC letter).
  • additional documents may be required depending on the specific Free zone.
Where the visa can be obtained?
A freelance license in Dubai can be obtained from one of the following Free zones:
  • Dubai Production City
  • Dubai Knowledge Park
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Design District
The fee for a Freelance visa is from $ 3,400 (including registration, license and health insurance). The Freelance visa must be renewed annually.

It takes 10 to 15 working days from the date of application to obtain a license.
Abu Dhabi
A freelancer’s license in Abu Dhabi can be obtained at:
  • twofour54
  • Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development

The fee for a Freelance visa is from $ 4,000 (including registration, license and health insurance). The freelance license needs to be renewed annually.

In 2020, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) announced the introduction of a freelance license in more than 60 categories of media-related activities. The full list can be found on the department’s official website.

You can apply for a freelance license online at both ADDED and the free-zone twofour54 website
Ras Al Khaimah
The Ras Al Khaimah Free Economic Zone or RAKEZ has introduced a freelance work permit for professionals in the media and education sectors in 2018.

The permit starts at $ 1,660 and the package includes a 2-year UAE visa, as well as premium business services and access to a shared workspace. At RAKEZ, the freelancer works under own name and not on the company’s behalf.
Umm Al Quwain
The Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone freelance work permit is available to professionals working in the media, technology and film sectors. To obtain one, you need to submit an application, an updated CV, a passport-size photo and a scanned copy of your passport. However, the freelance visa obtained in this free zone is valid for 3 years. This can be done at the office or on the website of UAQ Free Trade Zone. The cost of the permit starts from $ 1 660
Fujairah is home to the Creative City Free Zone, where you can obtain a freelance license.

It is valid for 1 to 3 years. It usually takes just 1 day to apply and once approved, you are entitled to a resident visa and access to a flexible workplace.

The starting price of a license with Creative City starts from $ 3,000.
Ajman is home to the Ajman Freezone (AFZ), where you can obtain a freelance license.

The cost starts at $ 1,650. The license holder is also eligible for a 3-year visa. The processing time starts from 10 days.
The visa procedure consists of the following stages:
Obtaining a freelance permit (freelance permit)
The Freelance permit is the equivalent of a business license for freelancers. Like the business license, the permit has to be renewed once a year by paying a fee.

To obtain it, you need to submit an application to the relevant freelance office, in which you must specify the activities and attach the required activities and pay the permit fee.
Obtaining an Establishment Card (migration card)
You must first apply for a visa and obtain an Establishment Card. The fee for an Establishment Card is about $ 550
Applying for a freelance visa
Once you have received your visa, you may apply for a visa. This requires medical tests, biometrics and insurance.

On completion of the procedure, the freelancer receives a visa as well as an Emirates ID, which is an identity document in the UAE. The visa is usually valid for 2 years.
How to pay taxes?
The UAE does not impose income tax, capital gains tax and other taxes typical of other countries on its residents. However, in certain cases, you are required to register for VAT at the rate of 5%.

You do not need to register for VAT if your annual income is below AED 187,500 (USD 51,050, RUB 3,555,000).

For those whose income is between AED 187 500 and AED 375 000 (from USD 51 050 to USD 102 100, from RUB 3 555 000 to RUB 7 107 000) per year, registration for VAT is voluntary.

Finally, should your income exceed AED 375,000 (USD 102,100, RUB 7 107,000) per annum you are obliged to register with the local tax office and obtain a VAT number.

Thereafter all your UAE counterparties must be invoiced with a separate line itemizing the VAT 5%. You will also need to submit quarterly reports to the tax authority.